Bournemouth v Southampton preview: Mark Hughes confident of Saints turnaround
Last Updated: 20/10/18 6:56pm
Southampton boss Mark Hughes says he is confident ahead of a visit to high-flying Bournemouth despite their poor league form.
The Saints are two points outside the relegation zone, having won only one of their first eight games of the season and scored just six goals in the process.
But Hughes said the picture painted of his side's season to date was "darker than it needs to be" in his pre-match press conference, and said with better finishing Southampton would be able to put their troubles behind them.
He said: "We want more points on the board. We feel once we overcome a little bit of the anxiety we've got in our play at times, in key moments...
"It's not as if we're not getting shots off. It's just our conversion rate we need to increase. If we convert more of them we'll score more goals and win more games.
"For the most part, as the season progresses we'll get more than enough points on the board. We've got a number of fixtures coming up that we feel we can maximise our chances with. That's what we'll try to do.
"You've just got to execute on matchday. That's clearly the one big element of our game we haven't got right yet. We still feel we're very close to that."
Eddie Howe said it was important his Bournemouth side, who are sixth, 11 places above Southampton, did not let complacency set in on the back of a superb 4-0 away win at Watford before the international break.
And he played up the rivalry which has developed between the two clubs in recent years, with Saints' traditional adversaries Portsmouth two divisions below.
Howe said: "We respect Southampton a lot, they are a very good club with very good players, so we don't underestimate them at all, because we know football can change very quickly.
"I definitely think it (rivalry) has grown from a point a few years ago, when we hadn't been at this level before.
"Naturally I don't think that rivalry was there. It has the scope to get bigger, but that will determine on both teams continuing at this level.
"We respect Southampton a lot, they are a very good club with very good players, so we don't underestimate them at all, because we know football can change very quickly."
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Bournemouth have doubts over Ryan Fraser (hamstring) and Joshua King, who returned early from international duty to aid his recovery from an ankle problem.
Left-back Charlie Daniels (knee) is closing in on a return, while midfielder Kyle Taylor (calf) also continues his rehabilitation.
Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy withdrew from the England squad due to a hamstring problem but is in contention to feature for his club.
"McCarthy came back early only because he'd had a little bit of tightness for a couple of weeks in his hamstrings," Hughes said.
"He did one session with the goalkeepers with England. He was still a little bit uncomfortable. It made sense for him to come back. There was good communication between ourselves and England. It was the right decision."
Hughes has no other fitness issues.
- Bournemouth have won just one of their six Premier League matches against Southampton (W1 D2 L3), their first home game against them in March 2016.
- In all competitions, Southampton have lost just two of their last 14 games against Bournemouth (W8 D4 L2), winning their most recent meeting in the Premier League in April.
- Bournemouth have won 22 points from their last 30 available in the Premier League (W7 D1 L2).
- Bournemouth have lost just one of their last eight home Premier League games (W5 D2) and are unbeaten in their last five at the Vitality Stadium (W4 D1).
- Southampton have lost their last three Premier League games by an aggregate score of 0-8. They last lost four in a row without scoring in the top-flight back in December 1993.
- Bournemouth are looking to win five consecutive home games in all competitions for the first time since November 2014.
- Only Manchester City (174) and Chelsea (142) have had more shots than Southampton in the Premier League this season (116). However, Saints have scored just six goals giving them the second lowest conversion rate in the competition so far (5.2%, behind only Cardiff).
- Bournemouth's opponents have been shown three red cards in the Premier League this season (Leicester, Everton and Watford), more than any other side.
- Only Eden Hazard (10) has been directly involved in more Premier League goals this season than Bournemouth's Callum Wilson (3 goals, 4 assists).
- Danny Ings has scored four goals in his eight games in all competitions for Southampton, equating to 50% of Saints' total goals scored so far this season.
This is a tricky game to call. Bournemouth are a funny team. They are a football pundit's nightmare if I'm being honest because you do not know what you are going to get. One week they are ripping teams apart and then they go to Burnley and get beat by four. Then they go to Watford and win by four, they are just one of those teams.
Southampton are also a hard team to predict. They were getting on top against Wolves a few weeks ago but suffered a 2-0 defeat. They are now without a win in four games in the league but I'm backing them to get something against their south coast neighbours.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-1 (11/2 with Sky Bet)